King's Quote and bin Laden

There's a subtlety to MLK's quote that can easily be missed. If I understand his views correctly, he supported military resistance to Hitler, and I don't think it could be taken for granted that King would have opposed the focused attacks on bin Laden and al Queda. I think it is unhealthy to *rejoice* in his death, rather than to see it as a necessary evil: this is a spiritual perspective, not a statement on whether the military should have been used against these enemies.

And the real defeat of Nazism came not (not only) through defeat on the battlefield, but with the Marshall Plan and the decision not to destroy the German people in punishment -- the relative honor the US showed in WWII and after it was the "light" that defeated an enemy that could easily have been fought in the "generational" way we now fight the terrorism.

Humility around our role in Afghanistan, a willingness to listen and forgive (not the ringleaders, but the populations that we also punish), a willingness to fight clean and be able to do something similar to "speak truth to power" at the end of the war, worked really well against the Nazis, and is how we should fight terrorists and terrorism. Hitler died a pariah, not a martyr, because when we were forced to fight we did it far more decently than humans usually manage.

But I also think liberals should be careful: amid all the wars fought for greed or fear, we diminish our own voice if we come across as just squeamish and unwilling to recognize and do anything about evil. We betrayed Afghanistan and left the country to rot at the end of the Cold War, we betrayed the Iraqi people coming and going (supporting S.H. under Reagan, then Bush calling Iraqis to resist S.H. and leaving them to be slaughtered, then slaughtering more to get rid of him), we fought wars like Vietnam that murdered hundreds of times as many as bin Laden because no one wanted to spend an hour asking if there was any reason for the war, supported the Contras who were specifically targeting and murdering health care workers which seems to me clearly as bad as targeting people who work in tall buildings; bin Laden has been spending years trying slaughter civilians, kill him if you can, just be careful of your soul not to rejoice too much, nor think that killing him was the most important part of the war on terrorism.

Liberals and people with good hearts have been sickened by how much we've been influenced by bin Laden, how far we've twisted from our ideals to his, how much we've treated war like a football game -- but I think King's quote spread half out of context is not good for bringing the country towards peace; we're sick of war jingoism and also sick of the war jingo-ists, the 18 years olds as well as Cheney, and we're not really try to drive it out with light. We're using King's quote as a bit of a weapon, insulting the people celebrating, because we're sick of them. That's neither in King's spirit nor is it effective. Somewhere he had a quote about driving out darkness with darkness not working...

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